I’ve been hanging low this week as it has gotten colder out and I’ve been pretty busy between work and play. That hasn’t kept me from once again hitting up the Farmer’s Market here in Arlington. It seems as though no matter what, the market always draws a crowd which is really nice to see. I love supporting locally owned farms and businesses because I think that it builds a sense of community and it gives back to people who are working hard at something they believe in. One could just as easily go to a chain grocery store and pick up whatever, but you don’t really know where it is coming from. Shopping local gives you the opportunity to talk to the owners of the farms or coffee shop and get to know what you are purchasing. Most times, the owner has a real passion for what they are selling because they are the ones who either made it or tended to it as it grew versus a worker at a store. I could go on for days but I think that if you have the opportunity to shop local, go for it. The quality is usually better and you’ll be helping out your community.
This week I picked up some baby butternut squash and decided to make Ina’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. I actually bought an extra one because they were so small I wasn’t sure how much I’d need. So, I need to figure out what to do with the extra one. If you’ve never had butternut squash, you should definitely try it. I think of it as having the same texture as a potato and an earthy flavor. It does well with seasonings taking on whatever you top it with. One of my favorite things to do with it is roast it with olive oil, salt and cinnamon. Then towards the end of baking I sprinkle brown sugar on it and allow it to melt then top it with dried cranberries. It’s SO good and a good alternative to sweet potatoes as a side (especially for the holidays coming up).
The recipe also called for apples – McIntosh specifically. I couldn’t find any of that variety at the market, but I did see some Winesap apples which I thought would be different and picked those up. I think the apples add some natural sweetness to the soup versus adding sugar. Use whatever kind of apples you like because you’re essentially baking all the ingredients then blending it up. I had some carrots left in the fridge and decided to use those as well, I just peeled them, chopped them up and roasted them along with the squash. You can’t taste them but they give the soup an even more orange color and you can claim that it is a health conscious option. Haha.
One word about butternut squash…they are VERY dense and quite difficult to cut. I recommend cutting it in half like so and then using a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off. This is why roasting the squash is a great option. It softens the squash so that it can be processed into soup but it also concentrates the flavor versus boiling it. Also, you’ll want to remove the seeds from the bulb part. You can totally clean them and roast them like pumpkin seeds.
Ina always likes to use a food mill to process her soups or potatoes. I’ve personally never used one because I don’t have one so I don’t know if it really makes a huge difference, but I think they look difficult to store and clean. I decided to use my mini hand blender or an immersion blender as it’s called. It’s great because it is small, lightweight, and you can blend the soup or whatever up in the pot that it is cooking in. No transferring it back and forth between a blender/food processor and back. It’s also very easy to clean. If you want to try the food mill – go for it, but I don’t think it is absolutely necessary. The soup is really good without it.
The thing that makes this soup very different from others is that Ina uses curry seasoning in it and tops it with curry condiments. Curry powder is a blend of spices typically found in Indian curry dishes. It is very
potent so a little goes a long way and it isn’t spicy in a heat sort of way but it just has a lot of flavor. The toppings for this kind of threw me, I mean the coconut, onions and cashews seem ok, but I’ve never heard of curry having banana in it. It does sound weird to put banana on a savory soup, but it actually is good. I liked it. Plus, the topping provide some texture in the soup which is very creamy.
To go with the spices of the soup, I paired this with Winc’s Upswell Cabernet Sauvignon. Although it is from California, it isn’t an Napa Cab, it is from the Central Coast. I think a lot of great wine is hidden in the Central Coast of California. If you’re into Napa wine, you should definitely branch out because California has a lot to offer and the price tag is typically cheaper than those coming from Napa or Sonoma. I opened it and let it breathe for about 20 minutes before I served the soup. This wine is great for any Cab lover, it has the smokiness from the tannins that are quite typical of a California Cab along with the oak and fruit flavors that come from the grapes and oaking of the wine. For $13 you can’t beat this price on a California wine that is very easy to drink and could be paired with any meal. The boldness of the wine stands up to the flavors of the soup so one doesn’t overpower the other.